Musicians: South Saturn Delta: Guitar, Bass: Jimi Hendrix, Drums: Mitch Mitchell, Percussion: Larry Fauccette, Horns arranged by Larry Fallon
Drifter's Escape, Pali Gap: Juma Sultan, percussion
Message To Love: Percussion: Juma Sultan, Jerry Velez, Rhytm Guitar: Larry Lee
All Along The Watch Tower: Dave Mason, acustic guitar, Brian Jones, percussion
Released 1998 (MCA)
01. Look Over Yonder info
04. South Saturn Delta info
08. All Along The Watchtower info
09. The Stars That Play With Laughing Sams Dice info
13. Drifter's Escape info
14. Midnight Lighting info
Look Over Yonder, Little Wing, Here He Comes (Lover Man), South Saturn Delta, Power Of Soul, Message To The Universe (Message To Love), Tax Free, All Along The Watchtower (Olympic mix) (Dylan), The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice (remix), Midnight, Sweet Angel, Bleeding Heart, Pali Gap, Drifter's Escape (original mix) (Dylan), Midnight Lightning
*My ratings judge the "albums" as a whole, even though here for example, some tracks are five star beauties.
Having used up nearly all the "most finished" post Experience materiel on the previous release, Eddie Kramer was obliged to delve deeper into the archives to complete this collection. Like with "Jimi Hendrix :Blues" this is a collection of old and new, with some stunning moments. One drawback is that some demos and alternate mixes are, like on "Voodoo Soup", a bit out of place next to the more polished re-released tracks. Messy compiling. Uneven finish.
That aside, those too young to have known the old albums will discover some fabulous Hendrix here. The blistering rocker from The Experience "Look Over Yonder" just screams along as Jimi punches in some of his greatest rock licks, rising to a shattering, whiplash climax. There are the great Experience studio instrumentals "Tax Free" and "Midnight" which feature some breathtaking guitar. The beautiful, Santana-like, "Pali Gap" is one of Jimi's most moving and accomplished instrumentals. "Bleeding Heart" takes the Elmore James' lyric into new funky rock territory, as good as anything on "First Rays". Other treasures from the vault are a studio version of "Power Of Soul" with the Band Of Gypsys, another Dylan cover in "Drifter's Escape" and the title track, a quirky jazz experiment from Jimi, complete with a brass arrangement !
Some interesting studio jams are included, "Lover Man" (in fact two takes cleverly edited together) opens with the intro that Jimi usually used for "Killing Floor", then takes off into an awesome display of screeching rock guitar. The essentially rhythmic Little Wing" (that title was written on the tape box) in fact turns out to be "Angel" , in an early instrumental run through with Mitch. "Sweet Angel" (which resembles more the structure of the "Angel" that is now on "First Rays") is another early version with overdubs, where Jimi uses a primitive electronic rhythm box to keep the beat. "Message To The Universe" is a raggedy but interesting live-in-studio run through of "Message To Love" featuring Jimi's ill fated "Woodstock" band (they had played the song at the famous festival). It does sound out of place here though. Finally "Midnight Lightning" is Jimi alone on guitar, tapping the beat with his foot and sounding like an old blues master.
A couple of "alternate mixes" are also included. The early Olympic Studios mix of "Watchtower" is really a bit too close to the "Ladyland" version to merit inclusion on this set (it would have been better placed on the box set which would soon appear) and an exciting remix of "The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice" (originally the B-side of the UK single "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp"). On that track the devastating guitar solo is mixed up front this time, fasten your seat belt !
"Look Over Yonder","Pali Gap" - previously on "Rainbow Bridge" (1971)
"Bleeding Heart", "Tax Free", "Midnight" - previously on "War Heroes" (1972)
"Drifters Escape", "The Stars That Play " - previously on "Loose Ends" (1974) - "Drifter's Escape" was a slighly different (better) version
"Power Of Soul" - previously on "Crash Landing" (1975) in a modified form
"South Saturn Delta" - previously on "Lifelines" in a slightly different form
A very striking photo of Jimi on a chopper which was a nice surprise. Jimi in fact had dreadful eyesight and was lethal in car, so I dread to think what he would have got up to on a motorbike ! The glossy mirror lettering is a bit too much perhaps but all in all an excellent packaging job - 9/10
- CONCLUSION -
In retrospect, the post "Electric Ladyland" material has again been rather unsatisfactorily compiled. In my humble opinion the re-releasing should have featured a straight "Cry Of Love" re-master. That album originally presented Jimi's most finished final works that had been cherry-picked by Kramer and Mitchell in 1971. A short CD one might say, but then so is "Axis" and who's complaining ?) . This could have been followed by another high quality release of these tracks :
Dolly Dagger, Earth Blues, Pali Gap, Room Full of Mirrors, Look Over Yonder, Hey Baby, Bleeding Heart, Tax Free, Stepping Stone, Midnight, Beginning, Izabella, Drifters Escape.
That would be a compilation of Experience and later Hendrix material but would represent the remaining studio work featuring high quality overdubs by Jimi, proving his own particular interest in the songs.
A more complete collection of Experience "rarities" could then have been built around The Stars That Play(remix)/Red House(version 2)/Star Spangled Banner(studio version)/All Along The Watchtower (Olympic mix)/Here He Comes(Lover Man) etc. This would have still left the opportunity to put out a more honest collection of demos and unfinished ideas, which treated as such, would have also made an interesting album. In fact the MCA box set which was released shortly after, effaced any opportunity to compile another satisfying CD release of studio work.